Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Coloured Salad

By Mag Teo
Writing about Stem Organics made me think about food with anti-oxidant properties, especially brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables. Rich in carotenoids, these edibles fight free radicals to keep us healthy and clarify our skin. I may love colours on my eye but I love colours in my food too! ;)

One of my favourite salads came from the now-defunct pizza joint, Milano's. Combining several types of fresh produce, this cheerfully-coloured starter is a delicious and healthy dish. Best of all, it's really simple to make.

I won't be giving you a standard recipe, since proportions would differ according to veggie preferences but the salad basically comprises:

• Red, green and yellow bell peppers (capsicum)
• Lettuce
• Cucumber
• Carrot
• Tomato
• Yellow onion
• Raisins
• Olives

Slice or shred everything up and toss!

I love how there's crunch and texture in this tasty salad. The tartness and piquancy of the onion and tri-coloured peppers are wonderfully offset by the sweetness of the carrots and raisins, while the cucumber and lettuce are a crisp and refreshing complement to the other ingredients. I'm not fond of olives though, so I usually omit them! :P

The dressing in the original recipe was the ubiquitous Thousand Island dressing. It goes well with the crunchy veggies but if you like, you could dress this salad with a vinaigrette or some garlic mayonnaise.

If you wish to make it a complete meal, you could also add hard-boiled eggs and ham or tofu and mushrooms, if you're vegan.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Up Close and Personal with Stem Organics

By Mag Teo

Through some friends in Australia, I recently interviewed Ms S, a happy user of Stem Organics skincare, to find out more about how the brand has worked for her.

Her Background:
Age: Late 20s
Skin Type:
• Sensitive combination skin
• Dry cheeks prone to redness
• Oily T-zone but skin is prone to dehydration
• Eye area has fine lines; milia can develop if products are unsuitable

Ms. S has been using the Gentle Cleansing Milk, Smooth Skin Exfoliant, Fresh Start Serum, Balancing Face Fluid and Intensive Eye Serum from Stem Organics for 9 months.

M: How did you find out about Stem Organics?
I found out about the brand from our common friends in Australia, after which I looked it up on the website for more information.

M: What drew you to the brand?
I have been an avid user of organic skincare products for 3-4 years now. Being the adventurous type, I have tried many brands in the market. Whilst having a chemical-free regime gives me more comfort, I feel that the brands that I previously tried tend to be overly 'mild' with no obvious benefits. I was later drawn by Stem Organics's anti-aging and anti-oxidant focus and decided to give it a go! I started off using just the Cleansing Milk and Skin Exfoliant, then I gradually added the other products to complete my regime.

M: So why do you like the Stem Organics Cleansing Milk?
S: I'm not fond of cleansing milks as I've had a bad experience with one, so I was a little concerned about the Stem Organics cleanser as it's called a 'cleansing milk'. Turns out that it actually has a gel-cream texture.

It cleanses very well but isn't drying. I like that it washes off nicely with no creamy residue that some milk/cream cleansers have. It also has a refreshing citrus scent.

M: I have heard you rave about the Skin Exfoliant, can you tell me more about it?
S: This is the most effective exfoliator that I've have used to date! The bamboo grains it contains are very small but dense, easily clearing the blocked pores on my nose and chin. They are quite mild, despite their graininess - I use this product all over the face, even on sensitive cheeks, with no problems.

I've read other reviews where users have commented that the effect is similar to microdermabrasion. I agree completely!

I'm on my third consecutive bottle of this product. ;)

M: How about the Fresh Start Serum?
S: It has a light texture and my skin absorbs it very quickly with no residue. I use it day and night and find it very effective in lightening my acne scars and pigmentation on my chin area.

Overall, my skin looks brighter and firmer with consistent use. I think it can be used as a standalone moisturizer for people with oily skin but I couple it with the balancing fluid.

M: What is the Balancing Face Fluid like?
It is a good moisturiser. My skin absorbs it quickly and it surprisingly helps to control my T-zone oiliness. It is sufficiently hydrating for my cheeks too (I have tried other moisturisers for combo skin but they were too drying on my cheeks). My skin has become smoother and my skin tone has improved with several applications.

M: And finally, why do you like the Intensive Eye Serum?
Finding a suitable eye product is difficult for me due to the dryness around my eye area. If a product is too lightly-textured, it doesn't do anything for me. If it's too rich or oily, I get bad milia.

This is *just* right - my skin very quickly absorbs the light gel-cream texture and it reduces the appearance of my fine lines. I've had no milia issues with this either!

It will last for a long time too, as a small amount goes a long way.

M: Any last thoughts on Stem Organics?
I love the texture of everything. They aren't heavy like products from other organic brands I've tried. I also like that the brand doesn't have a wide range…this takes the guesswork out of skincare for me!

The design of the bottles is practical too - all have 'lockable' caps to prevent spillage when travelling (I can't say the same for other brands! :P).